June 20, 2010

Abraham Lincoln Gillespie, Jr.

Abraham Lincoln Gillespie, Jr. [USA]
1895-1950

Abraham Lincoln Gillespie, Jr. was born in Philadelphia in 1895. In 1922 he moved to Paris where became friends with writers James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, and was a frequent contributor to Eugene Jolas’ Transition. Indeed, it is rumored that he began writing because someone suggested he looked like Joyce.

Most of his work took the form of writings on music, theater and dance, but his language, with its combined words and typographical idiosyncrasies, related as much to poetry as to the subjects on which he focused. Particularly in works such as “Amerikaka: Ballet,” the writing incorporates elements of sound and performance that bear close relationships, in some aspects, to the writings of performance artists and poets such as Jackson Mac Low, David Antin, and John Cage. His work has largely been out of print since his contributions to Transition.

In the 1930s Gillespie returned the US, living in the Village and performing his poetry at the Village Vanguard. In Live at the Village Vanguard Max Gordon describes Gillespie as the “Poet of Sputter.” Gordon specifically describes Gillespie’s reading of his Dada poem, “Willow Cafeteria”: “It lasted three minutes—a clangorous babble of a busy, crazy kitchen, dishes crashing, pots and pans exploding, all mixed with stentorian cries of distress. Link [Gillespie] had a voice for it. He’d stop as suddenly as he began, bow, and sit down. This was a major nightly event, and never failed to bring down the house.”

Gillespie died in 1950.


BOOKS OF POETRY

The Shaper (New York: Archangel Press, 1948); The Syntactic Revolution: Collected Writings of Abraham Lincoln Gillespie, Richard Milazzo, ed. (New York: Out of London Press, 1980)


A Poem from Puzlit

sardonically towers

ghoubrel

i shing my ostracization

come back !

come back, I implore you

no — stay away

here

i am ecstaticly.

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